” … Cornwall is a major tourist area, but its economy is one of the weakest in Europe. EU investments, together with “matched funding”, have injected around £1.5bn into the region, but this has had little impact on raising GDP.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been the perception by successive governments that the Cornish economy is synonymous with tourism, with its focus on unskilled, low-paid and part-item employment.
Cornwall is being directed to build 52,500 houses before 2020. A large proportion of these will be bought as holiday homes or by people retiring to Cornwall. This large-scale “immigration” has vastly distorted the housing market. People employed in tourism cannot afford these houses. Perhaps Cornwall’s perversity in delivering a very large pro-Brexit vote was because there are so many middle-class retired incomers who are putting stress on the social and health services .
Tourism is supposed to generate billions of pounds, but very little of this “sticks” in Cornwall because much of it goes to the major supermarkets, which employ unskilled people on low pay.
Government (and the Cornish will not forget the Brexiters’ claims that EU funding would be replaced by central government) must encourage high-value opportunities, such as those within the digital industries that are beginning to grow in Cornwall. And perhaps government should improve the social and health services, digital connectivity and rail and air infrastructure, rather than pumping more money into roads that primarily serve tourists.
Dr Ben Dobson